Back when I was doing the Ask a Waiter column for B+B’s sister blog, Grub Street, I had a highly memorable encounter with ultra-suave doorman Fabrizio Brienza, who at the time was the gatekeeper of a lounge at the Plaza Hotel. While most doormen try to justify their social Darwinism with the obligatory spiel about cultivating diversity (they just want a “nice mix,” a la Studio 54), Fabrizio was more upfront: “My policy of doing the door is really simple,” he said in his Italian accent. “If you look good and you’re cool and you’re stylish and you’re surrounded by beautiful, chic, chic girls, I’ll take care of you.”
Fabrizio is used to being surrounded by “beautiful, chic, chic girls.” The guy starred in a soft-core porno, Hotel Erotica, and showed off his pickup artist skills in McCarren Park and elsewhere around town for a painfully bad online show, DiGiTS. (Tagline: “Our white-hot Italian model is on a mission in NYC to get some digits. Come join us to see what it takes to get a girl’s number.”) It’s good to see Fabrizio has moved on to bigger and better things. Witness his scene-stealing appearance in The Boy Downstairs, a rom com that just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
I don’t mean to be stuck on Fabrizio. The film, the first feature written and directed by Tisch grad Sophie Brooks, is more notable for offering Zosia Mamet her first lead role, just as Get Out recently did for Girls castmate Allison Williams. Mamet plays a Shosh-like character, Diana, who scores a dream pad only to realize that her ex, Ben (played by Matthew Shear), happens to live downstairs. Awkwardness ensues, and Shosh– sorry, Diana– starts to wonder what drove her to ditch this nice Jewish boy while their relationship was just budding. The film is a distinctly New York rom com, featuring enviably airy brownstone apartments, rooftop Halloween parties, and even a scene filmed at East Village black-box theater Under St. Marks.
After that scene, Ben and Diana stroll down St. Marks to a nice little Italian restaurant, and that’s where we meet Fabrizio, an Italian waiter who serves truffles with a side of trifling. When Diana asks for lemon with her water, he refuses to bring it, huffily explaining that the restaurant’s lemons are for cooking. This got some guffaws out of those watching the film at a press screening. The waiter’s brusqueness gives the estranged exes something to bond over, and we start to wonder whether they’re headed for a rekindling. So, while he only has a few lines, Fabrizio’s brief appearance is kind of the movie’s turning point.
Fabrizio isn’t the first New York City doorman to become an actor. (Wass Stevens went from being a rope jockey at Marquee to making appearances in productions like Bushwick demon flick Ava’s Possessions.) But there’s something special about Fabrizio. Maybe it’s that he “looks like a cartoon of a handsome man,” as Lena Dunham said of Patrick Wilson at her Tribeca Talk yesterday. Here’s hoping this small role in The Boy Downstairs catapults him to Wilson-esque fame.
“The Boy Downstairs” continues at Tribeca through April 29.